SANDY, Utah – As Real Salt Lake's players and coaches scattered after their season-ending loss to Seattle in the Western Conference semifinals, one refrain rang true: Most wanted to get away from the game for a bit.
But there was one player in particular whose mind wasn't straying from the game. Luis Gil, who just turned 19 two weeks ago, is looking forward to helping the United States qualify for the 2013 U-20 World Cup.
"Just preparing for national team stuff," said Gil of his upcoming plans. "We'll have that coming up quickly, so I can't have too much fun."
The CONCACAF U-20 Championship kicks off in February, and Gil will certainly be among the names US coach Tab Ramos calls as he looks to qualify his team for the World Cup in Turkey next summer.
But besides helping the US, taking part in national team games also benefits Gil. The teenager played in 29 games with RSL in 2012, logging 19 starts, to take another step forward in his development, but he knows he'll be expected to return to RSL even more polished come next preseason.
"[Being with the national team] definitely helps," said Gil. "Obviously, it's another chance to represent my country and it keeps me busy, but it also allows me to stay a little more fit so I can come back ready for a new season."
The 2012 season was Gil's third with the club, and he is very grateful for that time. After being originally allocated to Kansas City, the Southern California-raised midfield has truly found a home in Salt Lake City.
And in those now familiar surroundings, Gil has continually improved as a member of a squad full of quality and competition.
"I think I gained so much more experience, especially from all the veteran guys," he said. "It's been good to get the experience with CONCACAF and stuff. I feel like I had a lot to learn from these guys, and now I just have to apply those things."
Still, Gil's future with the club is unclear.
During the offseason, RSL's brass will have to make some tough decisions – one of them centered around what to do with Gil. For the past three years, Gil's limited impact on the salary cap as a Generation adidas player gave RSL some wiggle room. But with the amount of time he spent on the field, it seems certain that benefit is a thing of the past.
"It was going to happen sooner or later," said Gil. "I'm almost at the end of my contract, so it was coming. I just don't let myself get too concerned with that."
So would Gil like to continue his career with Real?
"Hopefully," he said. "I feel comfortable with this team. But whatever happens, it is a business at the same time. But I do feel really comfortable where I'm at now."